Choose Your Business Archetype

As we at Fizzle looked at all the different kinds of businesses out there, we saw some patterns, some businesses that take a similar shape. We call these different shapes of businesses ‘Business Archetypes,’ and they can be really helpful at this stage of the roadmap.

Please watch the short video above and then familiarize yourself with the following business archetypes and read the instructions below.

1. The Freelancer

The freelancer is anyone who does work for hire. She’s hired to help a client in some area of expertise. Those areas of expertise vary widely from web design to construction work, physical therapy, life coaching, personal shopping and just about anything else you can imagine. This is a very common place to start, building up experience with clients to understand what’s important to them and then eventually pivoting to a less time-for-money kind of archetype.


Founder Stories:

Economic Reality: The freelancer trades time for money, i.e., she typically gets paid to do work in real time. (Compare that to an ebook that can be written once and sold many times.) A lot of time is spent marketing and selling to win new clients. It’s relatively easy to get started as a freelancer, often times no big investment of time or money is required.

2. The Teacher

The teacher sells training to help her customers solve specific problems. Rather than delivering them through freelancing or traditional books, the teacher uses digital products like ebooks, courses, and membership sites. (You’ll notice there’s a lot of examples and Founder Stories below; this is a very popular online business archetype.)


Founder Stories:

Economic Reality: It often takes some serious work to make an ebook or course or other training worth buying. But it’s very doable. The teacher splits her time between making courses and marketing them, often spending a good deal more time marketing to make more sales of existing products. Marketing often includes advertising and content marketing (blog, podcast, video channel, social media); both require quite a bit of time. Some teachers sell their products all year round while others only open up sales of their products once or twice a year.

3. The Thought Leader

The thought leader focuses on spreading ideas and sharing new research principally through public speaking and books. You can find her on the public speaking circuit, a book tour or a TED stage.


Founder Stories:

Economic Reality: People don’t typically start here, but, rather, after experience in another arena (as a journalist or software entrepreneur or blogger, etc.), they pivot into writing books for large publishers. They earn revenue on publisher advances, speaking fees and book sales.

4. The Mediapreneur

The mediapreneur can take many forms, including podcaster, newsletter curator, or food blogger. What ties them all together is their source of income from affiliate marketing, advertising, donations and sponsorships. In other words, they make money from their content.


Founder Stories:

Economic Reality: Content, content, content. The Mediapreneur often makes a TON of content, sometimes multiple times a day. Then ads are sold on that content, like sponsor reads in podcasts or banner ads on blog posts or sponsorships of email newsletters. Basically, the Mediapreneur makes something that gets very popular, grows a big audience and then companies want to advertise to that audience. This kind of business can take years to be profitable.

5. The Maker

The maker is a craftswoman/man. She makes jewelry or furniture, monogrammed linens, posters, illustrations, t-shirts, leather goods and just about anything else you can think of. Then she uses e-commerce platforms to sell her wares directly to customers.


Founder Stories:

Economic Reality: Manufacturing, inventory, shipping and handling… this is the bread of the Maker. And the butter is sales and marketing. And doesn’t even mention the task of designing and inventing something some people will want to buy. The Maker has to make sales, then she has to fulfill those sales orders. Physical products can be unique and interesting and highly differentiated online, but they can also be a hassle to manufacture and fulfill! The logistics of the Maker business can often be very cumbersome at first, but there’s more services to help makers fulfill their orders today than ever before.

6. The Curator

The curator is much like the maker. However, rather than making and selling her own goods, the curator sells goods made by others through e-commerce. She knows the tools of e-commerce: merchandising, storytelling, photography, design and user interaction. The Curator is kind of an expert web marketer with an interest in physical products like home goods, clothing, etc.


Founder Stories: Steve Chou

Economic Reality: The Curator can sometimes do all her work without dealing with any inventory, simply selling the products online and using a separate service to handle all inventory, shipping and fulfillment. For others, inventory and fulfillment may be a necessary part of the business. The curator has to keep finding ways to get people to her site, marketing to wider and wider audiences. Then, she has to keep improving the conversion on her site, getting people interested in the products, making it easy to add to cart and checkout.

7. The Engineer

The Engineer uses her technical skills to build tools for others. She focuses on solving problems through technology like web apps and mobile apps.


Founder Stories: Sahil Lavingia (Gumroad Founder)

Economic Reality: The Engineer sees a problem and comes up with a software solution to that problem. There is either a deep knowledge of coding, or enough skills to manage a coding team, or a partner with the technical skills necessary. User interface design and user experience design as well as a thorough understanding of the tasks the user is trying to do will shape the product itself. But that is very separate from the need to market the product and get it purchased and used by wider and wider audiences. Software can be paid for once up front or on a monthly basis. There is often a large need in customer support in this kind of business.

8. The Event Organizer

The Event Organizer can create an event that an audience will buy tickets to. They can be multi-day events or small workshops, they can be in a physical place or in a web environment (like a webinar).


Economic Reality: The Event Organizer creates the theme of the event, and often handles (or has a team to handle) logistics like booking speakers for the event, event space, rentals of light and audio/visual gear, etc. The event itself may take a ton of planning, or it may be a 1 hour workshop at a local restaurant. Either way, the Event Organizer has to sell tickets to the event, which means she has to market her event to wider and wider audiences.

Which archetype will you start with?

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the archetypes and you have a Founder Story or two to watch to learn more, which of the archetypes above feels best to you right now?

This is just a question about which one you like best TO START WITH. Over time businesses naturally diversify their archetype or pivot all together. What’s most important to us right now is: which direction feels best to start with?

There isn’t a right answer here. You could make a successful business on your topic in probably ANY of these archetypes.

Also, you won’t be stuck with this decision. You’ll be able to change your answer at any time. We just need to pick a direction now so we can start making decisions about the strategy you’ll use to grow your business.

When you’ve made a decision, let’s move on to the next lesson.